September 02,2009

Grassley on another Report Showing Government Significantly Overpays for Power Wheelchairs

WASHINGTON—Senator Chuck Grassley today condemned the wasteful Medicare spending outlined in the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General report revealing that Medicare and its beneficiaries paid nearly four times the average paid by suppliers for standard power wheelchairs in the first half of 2007. The report also states that Medicare and its beneficiaries paid close to twice the average paid by suppliers for complex rehabilitation power wheelchair packages in the first half of 2007. A copy of the report, “Power Wheelchairs in the Medicare Program: Supplier Acquisition Costs and Services,” is available here.

In April of 2004, Grassley, then chairman of the Finance Committee, held a hearing to draw attention to the widespread waste within the power wheelchair program. A copy of Grassley’s statement at that hearing is copied below.

“At a time when every health care dollar counts, it’s infuriating to learn that the government is throwing away money and is still overpaying for power wheelchairs,” Grassley said. “It looks to me that not much has changed since my last hearing on power wheelchairs some five years ago. The Inspector General reports that in some cases, CMS was paying more than twice the price listed on the Internet. This translates into hundreds of millions of dollars wasted and costs beneficiaries millions of dollars in co-payments. It’s only common sense that you don’t pay more for something than what’s on the price tag – but too often common sense rules don’t seem to apply in Washington.”